River Sow and Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal loop

Last Saturday Ash and I loaded the canoe on to the car and set out for a little local adventure.

We parked at Great Haywood at the Canalside Farm Shop and launched the boat on to the Trent & Mersey Canal.

The farm shop is extremely popular with walkers, families and people wanting to use the water, but we went later in the afternoon and were lucky enough to get a space near to the water, although they did have an overflow car park open.

Very quickly we took a turning on to the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal and escaped from the crowds. We passed over the River Trent, the canal widened and reeds lined the side.

We had scoped out a potential place to join the River Sow at the aqueduct, parked up the boat and hopped out to look. There wasn’t a direct route down to the river but it wasn’t too difficult to slide the boat over the nettles and then gingerly pick our way down the slope.

We launched into the River Sow and passed under the bridge, heading down stream back the way we had come.

Paddling along the canal is lovely but nothing like the peace and quiet of being on the river. We were surrounded by dragonflies skipping along and passed several disgruntled swans and their cygnets.

It became shallow in places and a couple of overhanging or fallen trees took a bit of dodging, but it was easy enough to navigate.

The peace and quiet was interrupted as we reached the edge of Shugborough where the river can be accessed, which is popular with children and adults alike taking a dip and playing in the water on a hot sunny day.

We knew we could get out at this bridge but decided to go a little further in the hope that we could find a quieter spot to cross back over to the canal. We found a pull in and after I amusingly climbed out and stumbled up a muddy bank to find that we were on the wrong side of the river, we paddled slightly upstream and across and hauled the boat out and up the slope and on to the Trent & Mersey Canal.

From here it was a short trip back up the canal, with a frustrating lock to contend with when we only had a little bit further to go, and then we were back to the shop.

4.4 miles in total, but probably closer to 5 if I had started my watch on time and a very enjoyable trip out.

We just managed to sneak into the shop to grab an ice-cream before it shut.

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